Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Question of Motives

Do you ever second guess yourself and worry that you may be doing things for the wrong reasons?  Do you ever delve into the inner workings of your brain and screw yourself up digging endlessly down into that dizzying circle of self-doubt?  Do you question why exactly you did that kind thing for that person?  Or why you feel so happy and good about yourself after giving up something you want?  Or why indeed you feel the need to live a good life and do what your conscience says is right?  Is it because you truly and whole-heartedly wish to serve God and glorify Him above all else?  Or is there perchance a tiny, barely discernible, selfish ulterior motive beneath those good deeds, which is your true motivation?

I'm an analyzer.  And a worrier.  So yes.  I have worried about my honest motivations on numberless occasions.  And I'm ashamed to say that more often than not my motives probably are wrong. 

First off, read this post by Naomi because she says it really well.  This is one of the things I'm talking about.  The habit of doing good things while secretly, deep down, wishing to be noticed and praised for it.  We do it unconsciously.  We have the best of selfless intentions in mind, but when we're through we realize we're disappointed that we didn't get any affirmation for our noble endeavors. 

That's one example.  But there's another one I've noticed about myself, too.  Those times when there's nobody to see the good deed I'm doing, so there's no way of my doing it out of a desire to be praised for it.  In those times my motives must be unselfish, right?  I must truly be doing it for God and not for myself.  Is it not so? 

And yet that little voice in my head says that there's something still underlying it.  Says that deep down I'm doing it for a reason other than a pure desire to honor my Creator.  Am I, perhaps, only being good for myself?  I fully believe that obeying God is the right thing to do, but am I obeying Him because I love Him or because I want to feel secure in the thought that I am in the right.  That I am a good person.  That I am someone to be proud of.  (Because boy! do I like to be proud of myself.)

I've been reading The Lady's Confession by George MacDonald and this paragraph stood out to me as describing with painful accuracy the feeling I've had about my motives at times. 

"Faber's main weak point was, that though he was indeed tender hearted and did kindnesses not to be seen of men, he did them to be seen of himself.  The boy was in the man, doing his deeds and seeking the praise of his own conscience.  Though perhaps this was not a grievous wrong, it was poor and childish and obstructed his higher development.  He liked to think himself a benefactor.  Such a  man may well be of noble nature, but he is a mere dabbler in nobility, for a certain degree of pride is always inherent in such a view of oneself." 
[The Lady's Confession by George MacDonald]
This shook me rather.  Because I know it's true.  I'm prideful.  I like to watch myself do nice things for people.  I like to think that people are grateful to me for those things, and that they love and appreciate me for them.  Indeed I think about myself far and away too much.
And realizing this I naturally fall into a bout of worry and discouragement.  Because I want to have pure motives.   And yet lofty thoughts of myself always seem to creep in.  And so I fret over this wickedness inside me; grasping for some way to rid myself of it; and yet finding that in this matter I am utterly and completely helpless.

When you discover a sin in yourself, do you ever fall into the thinking that now that you've discovered it you can't move on until you've overcome it?  I do.  Knowing it's there means it is my duty to get rid of it.  Henceforth, immediately. 
But I can't. 
And that's where the hopeless feelings of unworthiness start to set in and drag me down until I feel that there's no way in the world I can ever measure up to God's standard, and be the person He wants me to be.  And guess what?  That's true.  I can't!  I can't do any of that.  It's God alone who can do it in me, and when I come to realize that, lifts the weight a bit.  And I cling to Him, and cry,
"Search me, O God, and know my heart;  Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way."  Psalm 139:23-24
God is the one who searches me.  He is the one who knows me.  He's aware of the deepest, darkest places in my broken and sinful heart.  Even before the foundation of the world He knew.  And still He called me.  Called me His own.  Reached out His hand, took me up, and said,
"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.  This I command you, that you love one another."
John 15:16-17
We cry out to God, hoping and pleading that He will see our contrite hearts and have pity on us. But do we not realize?  He's already done that!  We didn't choose Him.  He chose us!  What a marvelous, humbling truth that is. 
"Our Father which art in heaven, we Thy children are often troubled in mind, hearing within us at once the affirmation of faith and the accusations of conscience.  We are sure that there is in us nothing that could attract the love of One as holy and as just as Thou art.  Yet Thou hast declared Thine unchanging love for us in Christ Jesus.  If nothing in us can win Thy love, nothing in the universe can prevent Thee from loving us.  Thy love is uncaused and undeserved.  Thou art Thyself the reason for the love wherewith we are loved.  Help us to believe the intensity, the eternity of the love that has found us.  Then love will cast out fear; and our troubled hearts will be at peace, trusting not in what we are but in what Thou hast declared Thyself to be.  Amen."
[The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer]
It is God Himself who will work the change in us that we so desperately need.  God Himself that will purge all darkness from our hearts and make us pure.  We can trust Him for that.  We can throw aside all of our worries and fears and trust Him completely to mold us and shape us into the people He wants us to be.  It's not too big a job for Him.  Not in the slightest.
And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."  When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?"  And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible,
but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:23-26


  1. Yep this is me. Yes this blog post is good. Yes. God is great and awesome Amen.

  2. I completely understand, and I'm sure that a lot of women struggle with the same thing. After all, Satan did tempt Eve by flaming up her pride. And there is a desire in women that we want to be appreciated (all the time).

    1. Yes, pride is certainly one of our biggest downfalls.

  3. Wow. This post was wonderful, Miss March. I think we can all relate to doing good things for others with that tiny, underlying desire to be praised and thanked for them. It's just our selfish, sinful nature, and it really is discouraging! But then, like you said, it's such an amazing comfort to know that God still loves us despite all of our flaws, and that He has already given us the victory over our sins through Jesus.

    Love, love, love this post. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Discouraging is right!! :P But yes, that is so true! God has already given us the victory. Jesus knew from the beginning every sin we would ever commit, and it was with that full knowledge that He chose to die for us! That's amazing. And truly comforting.

      Aww, thank you! I guess it was worth writing then. :)

      And hey! You changed your profile picture! It's lovely. :D

  4. Oh my goodness Miss March. I KNOW. Just YES.<3 And you said it all so eloquently. You're not alone in this, dear.<3

    ~Rilla Blythe

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, dear Rilla! Though I certainly wouldn't wish such worries on anyone, it's still nice to know I'm not alone in this. *hugs* And even more than the comfort of human understanding, isn't it wonderful to know that we have a God who FULLY understands ALL our weaknesses? :)

  5. This was very deep! But I do love posts that make me think:)
    Being an over analyzer myself I completely understand the problem, I had a whole "am I really truly selfless" crisis a couple of years ago.
    But the last part is really reassuring and encouraging. It's so good to remember that with God all things are possible!

    On a completely other note - I love your blog design. I don't know if it's new (haven't been in here a while), but it's absolutely lovely:)

    1. It was rather deep, wasn't it? I was a little worried that I might have gone in over my head on this one. But ah well. It made me think, too. And that's a good thing. :)

      Oh yes. Those times of crisis. I CAN RELATE!

      I'm glad this was encouraging. It was for me, too, writing it. :) God is so good to us, though, isn't He?

      Thank you! I've had this design since January. I'm glad you like it. :) And welcome back! Your presence has certainly been missed. :)

  6. I, too, read Naomi's post and while I can relate to being kinda bummed if no one notices all my hard work, I think I can relate to this even more. It's hard to explain, but I think it makes me even MORE proud of myself somehow??? Like, "I did ALL this and I didn't even do it to be noticed! I won't even mention it to anyone because I don't NEED credit!" If that makes sense... I wish I were more selfless and could do things truly for other people.

    1. YES. That totally makes sense. After all, we have double the reason to be proud of ourselves when do something good without the intent of being noticed. RIGHT? "I did this good deed, and I don't even need any praise for it. Aren't I wonderful? I think so." *pats self on back* :P

      Same here! I wish I was a truly selfless person, but I know I'm not. Still it's encouraging to know that God has plans for making me so, and He knows how to accomplish that in the best and kindest way! :)

  7. I really really needed this today so thank you so so much Miss March!

  8. This post really hit me hard. How are you good at putting down feelings??
    Thank you for this.


    1. You're welcome, dear. I'm glad you found this somewhat relate-able. It is wonderful to know we're not alone in these feelings, though, isn't it? Keep trusting in God. He's got great plans for you!! *hugs*

      ~Miss March

  9. Ooooh, yes, I see exactly what you mean. *Begins to analyze herself and everything she does*
    But it is true, God is amazing and He can make us anything if we let Him!!
    Thanks for this, dear!!!

    1. Yes, indeed He can!! And I'm just so glad He doesn't leave us to struggle through on our own, because we'd NEVER make it! (But of course He knows that. ;))

      You're welcome! Thanks for your comment. :)

  10. This was a marvellous post, Miss March. :)

    That is very much like myself. I definitely struggle with it. And like you, I think of myself wayyy too much. I also get proud of myself, what I think *I* have accomplished, when it was really only ever God doing it all along. What I have is nothing. What I have done is nothing. But God makes it everything. :)

    Yes. Just, yes. Amen.

    ~Miss Meg

    1. Thank you, my friend. :)

      "What I have done is nothing. But God makes it everything." Amen! That is so true.

      Thanks for your comment, Miss Meg!

  11. I put off reading this till now because I haven't had a chance to read it fully yet. Now I'm glad to have time to read it, because this is a splendid post, Miss March!

    I admit I've never given much thought to this—-at least, not specifically--but you're so right. I frequently do right things for the wrong reasons....and YES. We certainly can't do anything with the right reasons. Not unless we have Christ. It's HIM who works through us.

    Your thoughts on wanting to do things so you feel proud of yourself, etc. actually remind me very much of something I've been struggling to put into words in my Rose and Isaac story. Rose is struggling because she wants to do the right thing, but she worries that she's making the right decision with the wrong mindset. She worries she's making the decision only because she KNOWS it's "the right thing to do", not because of her love for God. (I'm not saying you shouldn't do the right thing anyways...but she's struggling with understanding where her dependence lies, I think. Whether on God or on her own "moral compass".)

    ...Sorry if none of that made any sense! You've just given me food for thought. :)

    This was a really beautiful post, Miss March, and you worded it all SO well. *hugs*

    1. Thank you, Natalie! I'm so glad you think so. :)

      And well said. Yes. It really is only through His power that we can do the right things with the right motives. Indeed, our entire ability to do what is right is not from ourselves at all, but solely from Him.

      REALLY?!! Okay, wow. That's just cool! And now I think I'm really gonna relate to Rose, because, seriously, what you just said is SO me. And yes, is my dependence on God Himself, or on my own "moral compass"? (Love how you worded that by the way. That sums it up perfectly.)

      No, it totally made sense! And I'm so glad I could give you some food for thought. :)

      THANK YOU!! *hugs*

    2. Yes, you and Rose aren't EXACTLY the same, but I do think you'll find you have quite a lot in common. :D I can't WAIT for you to read it someday. (If I could only finish it....) (Thanks. :))

      *hugs back*

    3. Yes indeed! I'm definitely looking forward to reading it one day! :) (And you will finish it. Of course you will!!)